This year, as we celebrate the outstanding university destinations of our Year 13 graduating class, the University Counseling team offered their thoughts why this group of exceptional students were able to impress admissions officers of many top universities in the world.
'We believe this is a testimony of the Harrow education and they also reflect the top-quality students who are active in our community. These students have engaged in extracurricular activities such as Student Council, LAMDA, Sports Leadership, Music Leadership, Duke of Edinburgh Award, Battle of the Books, and many more LSA’s offered here at Harrow Beijing. These exemplary students are active members of the Harrow community in addition to been top scholars.'
Harrow is not only preparing students to succeed in college but more importantly, for an accomplished and fulfilling life beyond. This is epitomized in the university guidance system.
'We start in Year 9 through the PSHE career sessions. This is when students open their Unifrog account – the university research and preparation platform at Harrow Beijing. Students in Year 9 and Year 10 get the opportunity to take personality quizzes, understand different work environments, and explore potential careers. Looking into the careers that interest them, Unifrog highlights possible corresponding university degrees needed to get into these careers as well as the A-Level subjects required to apply for those degrees. For example, if someone wants to be a doctor, s/he have to take Chemistry and Biology at A-Level,' Mr Tomkins said.
In Year 12, students are assigned to a counselor who provide each student individual counselling through one-to-one appointments along with meeting with parents to discuss the university application plan. Our three counsellors have Open Office hours for students in Years 9, 10 and 11 during break and lunch for students to stop by with questions about their university aspirations.
'We help students select a range of universities, some fall into the category of “aspirational” while others fall into that of “Solid” and “safe”. We want to help each student come up with a personalized strategy for their career goals based on ‘best fit’, making sure that they feel motivated, secure and comfortable with their university plan. Throughout the process we provide support and advice to help students target specific schools and their programs. With this in mind we have a very structured University Application Manual which provides details of dates and deadlines to help students meet specific goals in the application process,' Ms Huang told us.
In addition to PSHE careers lessons starting in Year 9 and presentions to different year groups throughout the academic year we give university classes every week in Year 12 to help students understand different university application systems, teach them how to write good college essays, and advise them in preparing them for standardized tests, etc. The university counseling team also helps students navigate and select summer schools. The team believes that summer school can provide a good opportuniy for external learning into the intended degree subject. Summer school opportunities are posted on Unifrog including Imperial College London, Cambridge Pre-university, KCL, Yale Young Global Scholars inaddition to personal advice and recommedations for US university summer such as Brown, Barnard, UCLA and many others. Much depends on the individual student’s preferences. In addition to summer school, students can always take advantage of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) which are on Unifrog.
The counseling team gave insights into how admissions to UK universities differ from the US universities.
'UK universities focus on why you would want to study a certain degree and what did you do to delve deep into that particular field. Academic performance is the determinant factor along with a stong Personal Statement highlighting why you want that degree abd what super-curricular activities students have pursued related to that degree. US universities are looking at a broader spectrum, which is called the holistic approach. On top of good grades, admissions officers want to see the character of the student reflected in their essays and extra-curricular activities to have a sense of how each student would fit into their community and what they can bring to the university as a whole. In short, UK universities look for how fit a student is to their degree while US universities look for the fit between the student and the school,' Mr Tomkins said.
Everything comes down to students educating themselves about what individual universities look for in successful candidiates and that research takes time and maturity. Students also need to better cooperate with the counsellors.
At Harrow Beijing, University Counseling team supports students' university applications and guides them on their career path. They work tirelessly to help students from Year 9 to eventually enter higher education institutions. Subject teachers, the Counseling team, students and parents are important parts of the achievement of the university offer achievements. The university Counseling team is not only experienced and familiar with the application requirements of universities around the world, but also has close contacts with admissions officers of overseas universities. One of the teachers is a PhD graduate of Harvard University. It is this background and experience that makes this professional team harvest the praise and gratitude of all graduates.